Background: Few studies have examined user-reported perspectives about the quality and sufficiency of home and community-based services (HCBS) and their relationship to key health and community living outcomes.
Objective: To examine the association between unmet need for HCBS and health and community living outcomes in a multi-state, multi-program sample of Medicaid HCBS users.
Methods: We used data from the 2017-2018 National Core Indicators-Aging and Disability (NCI-AD) survey, collected among older adults and adults with physical disabilities who were receiving Medicaid HCBS across 13 states (N = 10,263). We conducted descriptive analysis on the demographic, functional, and health characteristics of the sample, and examined the prevalence of unmet need for HCBS across five domains: 1) assistance with daily activities, 2) assistive technology, 3) home modifications, 4) transportation, and 5) sufficiency of services for meeting user needs and goals. We used logistic regressions to estimate adjusted odds ratios for the association between unmet need for HCBS and health care utilization (ED visits, hospital/rehab stays, preventative care) and community living outcomes (active in the community, interacting with family/friends, satisfaction, control).
Results: Across the five domains, prevalence of unmet need ranged from 21% (unmet need for assistance with self-care or other daily activities) to 54% (unmet need for assistive technology). Individuals who experienced unmet need had consistently worse health and community living outcomes than those who reported no unmet need, after adjusting for key user demographic, functional, and social characteristics (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Unmet need for HCBS is consistently and significantly associated with poor health and community living outcomes among Medicaid users.
Keywords: Community living; Health; Home and community-based services; Unmet need.
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